Heartburn is painfully (excuse the pun!) common in pregnancy, with as many as 80% of mothers-to-be feeling the burn. It may start in the first trimester but is especially prevalent towards the end of pregnancies. On the bright side, in almost all cases, it goes away once your baby is born.
If you feel like you’re gargling molten lava or that a fire-breathing dragon is your kindred spirit, you are probably suffering from heartburn.
Heartburn sufferers typically feel a burning sensation in their chest behind the breastbone, but you may feel a burn anywhere from your lower spine all the way up to your throat and mouth. Other symptoms include a sour taste in your mouth, nausea or a lack of appetite.
The same hormones that make you super-flexible in your ante-natal yoga class are the ones responsible for relaxing the valve at the top of your stomach (sphincter) allowing acid to flow up into your esophagus. Pregnancy hormones also slow down digestion making heartburn more likely.
In later pregnancy, particularly from week 30, as your baby grows bigger, your uterus cramps the other abdominal organs, pushing your intestines and stomach upwards exacerbating the situation.
Over-the-counter antacids work by neutralising the stomach acids which are causing you pain. Different antacids contain different chemicals and come in chewable, liquid and tablet formats. Antacids containing calcium and magnesium are considered the safest to take during pregnancy. Avoid those containing aluminium, sodium bicarbonate or aspirin.
Antacids can interfere with iron absorption so if you are taking iron supplements, make sure you take them at different times.
Before taking any medication, check with a medical professional for the latest safety guidelines and research or call mothersafe. If your symptoms are causing you serious discomfort or happening more than three times a week, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication.
There are countless old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy, and if you have been sharing your discomfort around heartburn, you may have been told that women who experience heartburn during pregnancy give birth to babies with full heads of hair.
Incredibly, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore found that there was a positive correlation between the severity of heartburn experienced by the mother and the volume of hair on the newborn baby. So, if you have experienced terrible heartburn in your pregnancy you can expect a baby with a glorious mop of hair!